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CRS Stan Smith’s serving in two ships with the same pennant number (letters, May) must be quite unusual, particularly as they were both small ships.

Those who served in larger ships may have had more chance of doing so, given that repeated pennant numbers were more common for aircraft carriers, and their large ship’s companies increased such chances.

The mysteries of Maryton

I KNOW correspondence connected with the Mystery Ship competition is not to be entered into, but (separate to my entry of course) I joined April’s mystery, ship, HMS Maryton, in mid-1965 as a trainee midshipman. It was very shortly after her major engagement, and she still had, I was told, over 300 bullet holes in her. I didn’t count. My division included the

locally-employed Chinese cook and steward, their job was ammunition resupply, they were stationed in the wardroom flat, and were unimpressed with bullets which came through one side of the wooden hull and went out the other!

important. As your photo showed, we had two 40 MM Bofors, not the usual one, plus two twin Vickers machine guns, on the bridge wings, the ones with the very old-style ammunition drums, plus another two single Vickers, mounted on either side of the quarterdeck. There were also three Bren

guns, two Rocket Flare Launchers and a 3inch mortar on the bridge. When we opened fire at night at an Indonesian kumpit or outboard boat,

four tracer... Everybody else had a Sterling machine gun or in my case, my Very Own Browning Pistol. I was prisoner reception officer.

it was spectacular, one in Ammunition resupply was

two biggest ABs I could get, who hoisted in the Indonesian prisoners as they came up the jumping ladder – only a few feet above water-level. The prisoner was then swung hard against the engine room bulkhead, to shock him, and I searched him – they used to hide grenades in their shorts. The prisoners had to swim to the ship – after a midshipman was killed as the kumpit he was about to board alongside his sweeper blew up.

I then had to swim out to the captured boat, with a grapnel and line, to tow it in. This was OK by the day but less

so at night, when sea snakes were attracted to all the lights, and there were also the odd hidden four- foot-diameter stinging jellyfish, just below the surface. We also had a dog, Mary, who

had come out with the 6th MSS from Malta. She was well-known, took no

Singapore, getting off at the Union Jack Club (might have been the Britannia Club?) and catching the bus back later.

from the Naval Base into

prisoners amongst the other ships’ dogs, and was quite capable – on her own – of catching the liberty bus

– Ken Napier, Chairman,

Aquitaine Branch RNA, Chazarem, Beaugas, France

Kamikaze strike

I READ with interest the account by Les Wills of his serving in HMS Indefatigable and being hit by kamikazes off Okinawa (April, p29).

This was at the time of

Operation Iceberg under Admiral Halsey and Admiral Nimitz, Task Force 37 and 58. At this time I was serving as a

Royal Marine on HMS Euryalus, a Dido-class cruiser, when we had to go alongside one of the aircraft carriers.

A line was fired across to set up a jackstay to transfer the bombs off the aircraft carrier and put on HMS Euryalus quarterdeck which was shored up to take the extra weight.

This episode doesn’t seem to

be widely known, although I have a copy of the article written by

Lt Cdr Hewitt, damage control officer, which was put in the book Cruiser Experience (by Eric C B Lee). We said at the time if a kamikaze hit us with all the bombs on board we would be not here. I was serving on the bridge as aircraft recognition. At the time the atom bombs

were dropped on Japan we were approximately 1,000 miles off the south-east coast. HMS Euryalus was one of the

first ships to go to Hong Kong for the recuperation.

– K J Taylor, ex-Royal Marine

1943-46, Broadstairs, Kent

You might also be interested to read the review by Professor Eric Groves of the book Fire in the Sky about kamikazes on page 44 – Ed.

This involved having the

RO5 was HMS Eagle (1946) and HMS Invincible (1979), RO6 HMS Centaur (1947) and HMS Illustrious (1982), RO7 HMS Albion (1947) and HMS Ark Royal (1985) – perhaps that sequence means the new carriers should wear RO8 for HMS Bulwark (1948) and Queen Elizabeth and RO9 for HMS Ark Royal (1950) and Prince of Wales? The RN doesn’t seem to have used RO1, RO2, RO3 or RO4, I wonder why not? Indeed, who allocates pennant numbers to new


As a Writer and, later, a Pusser, I was rather pleased with the numerical symmetry of my first serving in HMS Hampshire (DO6) then HMS Albion (RO7) and HMS Bulwark (RO8).

After that I fully expected fate would send me

to HMS Ark Royal (RO9) but she paid off before that was possible, and HMS Troubridge (FO9) had already gone too. So, someone with an upside-down view of life

sent me to HMS Jupiter (F60) and, although HMS Fearless (L10) could have been next, she was not to be.

For a pusser, the pennant number of HMS Hydra (A144) was ever a reminder of the next muster of stores! Not sure how HMS Brave (F94) fits in but there was one thing common to all – they were happy ships.

– Lester May,

Camden Town, London

PS: It was WMP or MRU for a CTP, now it’s RIP. Sad. Bad. Mad.

For those whose mastery of the TLA – or three-letter acronym – is not up to Lester May’s, WMP is ‘with much pleasure,’ MRU is ‘many regrets unavailable’ and CTP is, of course, ‘cocktail party.’ However, media reports of the demise of the CTP have been exaggerated, as we report in the centre pages.

ON April 13, 70 years ago the Royal Navy, in the largest encounter with the enemy since Jutland, destroyed a powerful German naval force of eight destroyers in the narrow confines of Ofotfjord

Warspite at the time and had already decided that on this 70th anniversary, despite being 92, I would make the long trek to beyond the Arctic Circle. With a partial grant from Heroes Return I set off with my carer, David ‘Barney’ Clifton, formerly 45 Commando, on the epic journey. Flying

he to

and on to Oslo we were met by the senior RN Naval Attaché, Lt Col David Summerfield RM, who wined and dined us and put us on the right plane for Narvik. In Narvik, after

nd us or

we were settled in we were met by Major David Smith, the RM Liaison Officer

Co ld d

Copenhagen RN

penhag were RN ol



● The remains of HMS Hardy

In the middle of Ofotfjord poppies over the last

The re


A £25 Amazon voucher to the letter which amuses, impresses or enlightens us the most.

who once more wined and dined us and showed us the town. On the morning of the 13th we

were joined by a wonderful person, Ulf Eirik Torgersen, the curator of Narvik Museum, who has kept the story of the British victory alive. We presented him with a model of HMS Warspite made by Joel Christy (model-maker) of Haxby, in a case made by York Plastics. He took us round the fjords

and gave us flowers to place on the graves of all the British dead, including Capt Warburton Lee, CO of HMS Hardy.

yards L


volcanic ash catastrophe hit and after waiting for a further three days we decided to go overland. We travelled the length of Norway, across to Sweden on the ferry, through Sweden,

Germany and France. Two days and five countries

later and minus a small fortune we arrived home. I have to say thank you to my

carer; I could not have managed on my own.

– Bernard Hallas, RM (former

gun captain, HMS Warspite 1935-47, Haxby, York

Denmark, The following Friday the

resting place of HMS Hunter, more than 200 ards beneath my feet, and the Lady Mayor of Narvik gave me a wreath of fresh flowers to lay upon the ice-cold waters as a tribute from the people of Narvik.

I placed my wreath of red p


th p


...I WAS very interested to read in your excellent article Slaughter in the Fjords (April) that the wrecks of Eidsvold, Norge, and Hardy are off-limits to all diving activities, well the fact is Hardy isn’t there anymore!

My brother-in-law, who lives near Ballangen, told me years ago in the mid-sixties that an Italian salvage team were cutting the wreck up and transporting it away in barges. In 1972, as guests, my wife and

I attended the London reunion of survivors of the first Narvik battle, there I met the widow of Capt Warburton-Lee (Mrs


Sutherland) who told me that a shooting trophy belonging to her late husband had fallen through from his cabin and had been lying for many years in the bottom of the ship.

The salvage team found the

trophy, cleaned it up and returned it to her.

– Bill Sanders, HMS Ganges

Association, Exeter

ey 5

h my y’

in the approaches to Narvik.

I was a gun captain on HMS

Epic return from Narvik

Too young for the tot

I DOUBT if anyone can better my career as a Senior Rating. I joined in September 1943

volunteered to join the new Radio Mechanic Branch, which up to then had consisted of Hostility Only ratings.

intensive course, survivors would be rated Leading Radio Mechanics, and 12 months later, Petty Officer, with promotion to CPO Radio Mechanic three years later.

rated LRM in October 1945. As far as I know I am the only RN PO to have been unable to draw a tot of rum as I was too young. In my 25 years’ service, 22

I survived the course and was On completion of a ten-month In December 1944 I

as a Boy and trained as a telegraphist at HMS St George, Isle of Man.

were spent in Senior Rates’ messes. Beat that! – Stan Collis, Ex CPO R EL Ashburton, New Zealand

Thanks for all your info

I’VE HAD a marvellous response from your readers to my request for information about coastal forces in World War 2.

I was looking for information with particular reference to HMML (HM Motor Launch) 118, which was adopted by the town of Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, and which I was researching for our museum here.

I have had many telephone calls and emails offering information, memories, pictures and inspiring stories of wartime service with the coastal defence forces. I am really grateful to everyone who got in touch.

– Margaret Ballard,

Aldeburgh Museum, Suffolk

Getting my bearings

WITH REFERENCE to Norrie Tirrouez’ letter Seeing Double (March), I was Navigation Offi cer of HMS Bermuda in 1962. We never visited Helsinki. I think Norrie is confused. The port might be either Stockholm or Aarhus. The background suggests the


– Stewart Hett

My Tireless ‘tache

REFERRING to Mr Alston’s letter Mustachioed Mystery (April) it was possible to grow a moustache if you were a 7.5 rating, as I grew one as a Leading Steward on HMS Tireless in the1950s. I found the regulations in QR

and AI.

– William Rowlands,

Dordon, Tamworth, Staffs

THE last Saturday of this month (June 26) will be celebrated across the nation to mark Armed Forces Day. Some, like the national event in Cardiff, the focus of the celebrations, will be large, prestigious and impressive, attracting national media coverage. Others will be more modest affairs, organised by volunteers at a local level. What links them all, large and small, is the determination to show the public’s support and appreciation for Service personnel past, present and future. The first Armed Forces Day was held in 2009 and built on the success of the former Veterans’ Day. Its aim was to increase public appreciation of the Services and also to recognise the contribution made by what is usually called

the wider Services community – including veterans, families and cadets.

The day before Armed Forces Day, Friday June 25, will be Uniform to Work Day, where reservists and cadet adult volunteers will be encouraged to wear their uniform to work.

June 2010 no.671: 56th year

Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth PO1 3HH


Forces comprise more than 15 per cent of volunteer reservists who also lead civilian lives – let’s hope the Uniform to Work Day provides a visible reminder of their contribution. And on the same day, veterans should make sure they wear their HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge as a proud reminder of the service they gave to their country.

The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the MOD

Perhaps not many people realise that the serving Armed

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